Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards .
--Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard
Not known as a sentimentalist, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has mostly acted the part of courteous house guest while being treated as a visiting dignitary during a six-month farewell tour that has visited every sector of the country.
Protocol has been strictly observed. Gifts have been given the retiring Laker center, platitudes exchanged, applause graciously accepted and, once in a while, emotions revealed. Except for truly touching moments in New York, his hometown, and Milwaukee, where he began his professional career, the tour has all been so nice and polite, so businesslike and structured. But Abdul-Jabbar is home now. The 24 tour stops are behind him. This afternoon, Abdul-Jabbar will play his final regular-season game in the National Basketball Assn. when the Lakers meet the Seattle SuperSonics at the Forum. Game time is 12:30, but the ceremony honoring Abdul-Jabbar will begin at 11:45 a.m.
Maybe today, in a familiar and friendly setting, in front of fans who always have embraced him, Abdul-Jabbar will reveal some of his previously undisplayed feelings.
The Lakers have not announced details of today's ceremony. This being Los Angeles, though, it certainly figures to be a spectacle. But just Abdul-Jabbar and microphone at midcourt no doubt would be emotional and memorable.
Will his goggles get misty?
Will he be able make it through a speech that has taken him 20 seasons to write?
Or will he, as usual, keep his emotions to himself? Abdul-Jabbar, quite naturally, said he does not know how he will react. It is not something he wants to predict or predetermine, he said.
"That's going to be a tough one," Abdul-Jabbar said, evenly, when questioned about his farewell stop on the farewell tour. "Very tough. Probably, it will (be emotional). I don't know.
"Most of (the acceptance speeches) have been extemporaneous. A few things come into my mind before I get up to speak, things I can relate to the city. But (in Los Angeles), I don't know. I'll probably write a few things down, just to remember people to thank."
Teammate and friend Magic Johnson, however, said he will have a tough time controlling his emotions. He said he cannot imagine what Abdul-Jabbar's feelings will be.
"These people know him and really, truly are saying goodby and thank you from their hearts," Johnson said. "Everybody else did it from their hearts, too, but our fans know Kareem. It's going to be powerful and emotional."
This, of course, will not be his last game. The playoffs start this week and, when Abdul-Jabbar actually does play his final professional game--as soon as early May or as late as June 20--it will be secondary to the Lakers' quest for a third consecutive championship.
"I think that's the best course of events that I'd be comfortable with," Abdul-Jabbar said. "That's what this whole season is all about, trying to play for the world championship. My last year is secondary."
A player of Abdul-Jabbar's caliber, the NBA's all-time leading scorer and considered by some as its greatest player ever, should not be allowed to slip into retirement unnoticed. That was the motivation behind the farewell tour, proposed by the NBA office last summer and gladly accepted by Abdul-Jabbar.
Several themes have emerged in Abdul-Jabbar's 20th, and final, season. But, essentially, the tour has fostered a better understanding between a 7-foot-2 enigma and a public that seemingly had been puzzling to Abdul-Jabbar.
Abdul-Jabbar has been quoted nationwide more in the last year than perhaps in his previous career, spanning from Power Memorial High School in New York to UCLA to the NBA. Most certainly, he has never heard as many cheers and so few heckles.
And, rather than consider it a chore, Abdul-Jabbar said he viewed the tour as an opportunity to communicate. And, as a result, he will leave without rancor and even with a measure of affection for the fans.
"My opinion (of the public) really hasn't changed that much from recent years," Abdul-Jabbar said. "There was just no vehicle by which I could express it before. I was expecting problems (on the tour). I didn't think I'd have enough time to do it. But it was always at a convenient time, and it hasn't been a disruption to the team."
Along the way, Abdul-Jabbar also has acquired enough gifts to exceed a game-show host's wildest dreams, enough special moments and encounters to fill a book. Which, by the way, Abdul-Jabbar is writing.
He has been kissed by singer Whitney Houston and the ubiquitous Morganna, serenaded by saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. and lauded by such diverse dignitaries as Julius Erving, Red Auerbach and Jesse Jackson.
He has been given enough jazz compact discs to stock a record store, enough portraits of himself to have his own showing on New York's East side, two different modes of transportation--a motorcycle and a sailboat--and a wide assortment of knickknacks. The farewell tour, however, did hit a few obstacles.
There was Abdul-Jabbar's poor play early in the season, during which two prominent Los Angeles columnists called for his early retirement. Abdul-Jabbar blamed it on poor off-season conditioning and an early-season knee injury, and it almost prompted Coach Pat Riley to bench a legend.
There was the controversy over whether it was the right decision to add Abdul-Jabbar to the All-Star game when Magic Johnson suffered a torn hamstring. At about that same time, Denver Coach Doug Moe called Abdul-Jabbar a jerk and questioned the purpose of a farewell tour in his honor.
There also was Abdul-Jabbar's conviction on two misdemeanor charges of assault stemming from a shoving incident at a Phoenix shopping mall a year ago. On sentencing day, half a dozen mini-cams taped Abdul-Jabbar's procession to and from the courtroom. "I don't think any of those things affected it," Abdul-Jabbar said when asked to sum up his season. "I didn't expect things to go without any bumps in the road. That's the way this game is."
The game, nearly all observers agree, will not be the same without him.
That is why, for the last six months, he has been honored from Charlotte to Seattle, Boston to Phoenix, all leading to this afternoon's ceremony in Inglewood.
THE LONG GOODBY
Maybe this will be the last time we shake hands .
Maybe this will be the last time we make plans .
But whatever happens , Thank you from the bottom of my heart . --Abdul-Jabbar, quoting James Brown to fans at Madison Square Garden
To Abdul-Jabbar, it sometimes must seem that the farewell tour has been the closest thing to being at his own funeral, what with the praise from close friends and admirers. Retirement, after all, has been called the little death that awaits all athletes.
Viewed a different way, though, this also could be Abdul-Jabbar's graduation to the outside world after 33 years of organized basketball. Thus, the farewell tour has been his valediction.
The routine has gone like this:
The ceremonies have taken place either before the game's start or at halftime. A microphone has been put at midcourt, along with the gifts and the lineup of well-wishers. Newspaper photographers and television cameramen have formed a half-circle around the make-shift stage. Abdul-Jabbar either has waited with his Laker teammates until the kind words have been spoken and he has been summoned, or he has joined the master of ceremonies at the start.
The requisite, yet not contrived, standing ovation usually has lasted about a minute, with Abdul-Jabbar shyly bobbing his bald head and giving an open-handed--fingers spread out, thumb tucked in--acknowledgement to the crowd. Then, it is Abdul-Jabbar's turn to speak.
His speeches have had a distinct pattern. Abdul-Jabbar almost always has thanked the host city for its support of the NBA and helping it grow into a major sport. In sites where he has been particularly dominant figure, such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia, Abdul-Jabbar invariably has referred to himself as "the villain." In Utah, he used the cartoon variation, Snidely Whiplash.
He has creatively found a way to personalize each stop. It is easier to excavate memories in some cities than others. In two cases, expansion cities Charlotte and Miami, there were no memories to relive.
Some of Abdul-Jabbar's referances are obscure and date him. Some are stretches. But many are rare glimpses into Abdul-Jabbar's thoughts and feelings.
A few of the highlights:
--New York, Abdul-Jabbar's hometown, was the scene of the most emotional ceremony. Abdul-Jabbar's parents, Al and Cora Alcindor, were present, as were many friends and influences from Abdul-Jabbar's childhood.
--Philadelphia's 22-minute ceremony featured a nine-minute sax solo by Washington, who fittingly chose to play Duke Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood." Julius Erving, a close friend of Abdul-Jabbar, served as master of ceremonies and called Abdul-Jabbar "the greatest player in NBA history."
Abdul-Jabbar thanked the fans by quoting Ellington: "I love you madly."
--In Milwaukee, a photograph for eternity: Abdul-Jabbar astride a champagne gold motorcycle built at the Harley-Davidson plant there and presented to him after a sentimental look back on his tenure as a Buck. He sat there for a few moments, giving the OK sign to fan. Asked at every tour stop to name his favorite gift, Abdul-Jabbar would smile and unhesitatingly say, "It's hard to beat the Harley.
"Actually, I had a Harley for a couple of years when I lived in Milwaukee, but when I went to L.A., I had to get rid of it. I was afraid I'd get killed riding it on the freeways."
--The villain angle was never more apt than in Boston, where Abdul-Jabbar has been lustily booed over the years. Red Auerbach served as emcee and actually was civil to Abdul-Jabbar, whom Auerbach had criticized in one Boston paper that morning.
"How can I get mad at him now?" Auerbach asked the crowd before presenting Abdul-Jabbar a mounted slab of the Boston Garden's parquet court.
Abdul-Jabbar, who said the Lakers' championship victory in Boston in 1985 is his most memorable achievement, credited Auerbach and Bill Russell for his development as a player. "I didn't know anything about this game," Abdul-Jabbar told the crowd. "I used to watch the team wearing green and a guy on the team wearing No. 6. He taught me how to play the game. And they had a guy who smoked cigars. And I never would have learned how to play the game had it not been for the Celtic teams of the '50s and '60s."
--Utah went with the Western theme. The Jazz gave Abdul-Jabbar an 1886 commemorative Winchester rifle, custom-made rattlesnake boots, a rattlesnake belt with the state seal on the silver buckle, a leather jacket and made him an honorary deputy sheriff of Salt Lake County.
A month later in Phoenix, he was sentenced for his misdemeanor convictions the morning after his tour stop at the Veterans Coliseum.
Addressing the fans, Abdul-Jabbar looked around at his gifts and said: "I was told there would be another gift here, a get-out-of-jail-free card."
--A look of genuine surprise crossed Abdul-Jabbar's face during the Golden State Warriors' ceremony, when he was presented with a 24-foot sailboat, which was lowered from the ceiling. It was christened, Cap's Sky Hook.
The most frequent gifts were jazz records. Abdul-Jabbar was literally given wheelbarrows full of CDs. It got to the point that Lorin Pullman, Abdul-Jabbar's personal publicist, discouraged teams from further supplementing his overflowing collection. "After about the seventh city with CDs, I did discourage it," she said. "Only because I think he has every CD in jazz ever made to this point. . . . But we'd never look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak."
A gift horse is about the only thing Abdul-Jabbar has not received.
Gifts have appealed to Abdul-Jabbar as both the athlete and the aesthete. They have ranged from an African sculpture of an elephant--the symbol of dignity, longevity and strength--appraised at $10,000, to a portable telephone, to the obligatory rocking chair. He also has received golf clubs and a fishing rod with 10,000 hooks. As pastimes, golf and fishing rank with cleaning the rain gutters at Abdul-Jabbar's Bel-Air home. He graciously accepted them, anyway.
Abdul-Jabbar, through corporate sponsorship by L.A. Gear, has donated $1,000 in each city to a charity of the host team's choice.
But, what has Abdul-Jabbar done with all the gifts?
"I've asked them to be shipped to our offices," Pullman said. "Or, if they are too big, they go to the Forum (and then) to Kareem's house.
"The Harley is still at the dealership in L.A. The boat is in L.A., but it'll go to Kareem's place in Hawaii. I don't know how it'll get there, exactly."
Abdul-Jabbar says the gifts are not what he remembers most, though.
"The gifts have been great," he said. "The appreciation has been great. That's really what it's all about. I really wasn't into getting all the gifts and stuff like that. That really wasn't the emphasis. I think sharing the moment with the fans and being able to share their appreciation one time. And I think I've gotten my message across."
MUCH TO DECLARE
Well, it's all right , Even if you're old and gray . Well, it's all right , You've still got something to say . --The Traveling Wilburys
By Abdul-Jabbar's admission, his humanization began in 1983 with the publication of his autobiography, "Giant Steps."
Since then, Abdul-Jabbar has opened up a bit. He has been candid and mostly cooperative during news conferences in every NBA city.
Although sometimes he heads directly from the airport to a news conference at a hotel without even dropping his suitcase, Abdul-Jabbar answers questions thoughtfully, if not always enthusiastically.
He has shared opinions on such diverse subjects as:
--His public perception: "People resented me. I don't know why, but people have their ways. I was never what you'd call a popular person because of the fact I became a Muslim and I believed in black pride, and people seemed to think I had a chip on my shoulder. I didn't, but sometimes what you think is there can be a very formidable thing. I guess it soured my relationship with the press and made it very easy for them to attach any significance to what I was doing on the court."
--On retiring with dignity: "I remember being in New York and watching Willie Mays at the end of his career, playing for the Mets. He wasn't playing well, and it made me feel bad, because I idolized him."
--On the media: "I don't see strangers as attackers any longer, don't feel they're out to tear down what I've accomplished."
--On living in Milwaukee: "I remember there was a window facing north in my apartment. I came home one night and pulled the curtains, and that window was just a solid sheet of ice. I said to myself, 'Oh, my goodness.' "
--On agreeing to a farewell tour: "Five years ago, I couldn't have imagined doing this. I wasn't ready for it."
--On playing with Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson: "I was able to play with three of the top five playmakers in NBA history. Oscar, Guy Rodgers and Magic. I try to think of a good analogy for that--like if you had a talent for electronics and got a chance to work with Thomas Edison. That's the way I feel."
--On reminders of his age: "Coach Don Chaney (of the Houston Rockets) is a good friend of mine. His kids, I remember 12 years ago when he was with the Lakers. Now, one's in college. My friend Greg Smith (a former teammate with the Bucks), his son is the starting guard for Cal. And I'm still playing in the NBA."
--On his most cherished memory as a professional: "Winning the world championship in Boston in 1985. That we were able to go up there and beat them in the Boston Garden was very special.
"The Lakers had a long history of them kicking sand in our faces, dating back to the '50s. We'd won world championships, but we'd never beaten them. And we'd been characterized as a bunch of West Coast pansy-types playing sissy kind of basketball. . . . Winning that one, and being a key ingredient in doing that, being able to raise our hands underneath all those banners, that's something I'll always remember."
--On how he would like to be remembered: "I hope they remember my consistency and the high level I played at. . . . I think people can now understand me and what I'm about. They can see I'm more or less a regular person."
THE MEDIA MARRIAGE
It was a marriage composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories. It fell into three stages, which may be termed Youth, Maturity, and Age; Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis; or Jason, Achilles, and Nestor. --Author John Updike on Ted Williams' last game
Ted Williams, a baseball player Abdul-Jabbar followed while growing up, never made his peace with the media. In fact, in his farewell appearance at Fenway Park on Sept. 28, 1960, Williams began his speech by pointing to the press box and saying, "In spite of all the terrible things that have been said about me by the knights of the keyboard up there . . . "
Had Abdul-Jabbar retired five years ago, he might have given a similar speech, providing he agreed to speak at all. He has battled long and fiercely with sportswriters and, in his book, questioned their intelligence.
Gradually, though, he has built a trust. Now, his relationship can be described as cordially professional. As Billie Jean King once said, "If you stay around long enough, they'll start to like you."
Well, judging from the press clippings of the farewell tour, Abdul-Jabbar still is drawing mixed reviews. His talent and longevity have been duly recognized, his new openness praised.
But many columnists seemingly cannot forget his years as a sullen public figure.
After Abdul-Jabbar had played his last regular-season game against the 76ers, columnist Bill Conlin wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News:
"Abdul-Jabbar is making one of those magical mystery tours that have become obligatory in sports when a legend comes limping down the homestretch. It is good business, I suppose, but isn't there something a tad hypocritical about giving a night to one of the guys we loved to hate above all others for two decades?
"Grover Washington Jr. . . . saluted Abdul-Jabbar with a silky arrangement of "In A Sentimental Mood." "Mood Indigo" might have been a better summary of Kareem, however."
Conlin was not alone.
This from Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Light:
"There is a big lie being told about the Big Fella, and it's that we are misty-eyed because he's hanging up his goggles. . . . Ask most fans, and they wouldn't pitch in to buy him a going-away stick of gum. . . . He's been cordial on the farewell tour, but that doesn't make up for two decades of being America's tallest, coldest fish. He summed up everything wrong about the NBA in the 1970s. He was too good, too big, too indifferent."
Mostly, though, Abdul-Jabbar has won over reporters, who have dutifully paid tribute to his achievements and place in the game's history as well as noting his change in attitude.
From Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post:
"Kareem's personality has changed, too. For so much of his career, the brief eye contact he granted the public was remote and disdainful. He seems gentler, more approachable, even friendly. . . . Vulnerability is the only way a great center can be liked--let alone loved."
From Bill Lyon of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Depending on your view, he is a relic, an anachronism, an institution, too lazy, too slow, too bored, too tall, too much. What he is, without question, is a certified geriatric marvel. . . . He has elevated those around him to a higher plane."
So it seems that Abdul-Jabbar and the writers have reached a truce.
Or, at least, some have.
TOUR STOP 18A
I make my living off the evening news .
Just give me something, something I can use .
They lugged their mini-cams and microphones, note pads and zoom lenses, down the courthouse steps and through a well-lighted corridor in search of Room 17, Municipal Judge John L. Wiehn presiding.
It was just before 8 on a Wednesday morning in late March, and every media outlet in Phoenix, plus a three-member crew from "Entertainment Tonight" and several reporters from Los Angeles, had gathered at the Phoenix Municipal Court for the sentencing phase of a trial that had drawn much attention in preceding weeks.
This was not a controversial decision on a heinous crime. It was the People vs. Abdul-Jabbar.
Earlier in the month, the defendant had been convicted on two misdemeanor charges stemming from an altercation with an Italian tourist last April at a Phoenix shopping mall. The man, Fernando Nicolia, had been taping Abdul-Jabbar's movements with a home video camera when the Laker center knocked it away. The man suffered a scratched ear, and the video camera had been damaged.
Because Abdul-Jabbar is who he is, and because the night before he had been honored by the Phoenix Suns as part of his farewell tour, this was a media event, a photo opportunity not to be missed.
There were three entrances to Room 17, which would be closed to photographers and the mini-cams, but not to reporters, during the sentencing. So, to ensure maximum exposure of Abdul-Jabbar, who had not been present during the trial, all sectors were covered and any sightings were to be relayed. It apparently was an unspoken professional courtesy.
One TV cameraman was standing on a chair awaiting Abdul-Jabbar's arrival.
"If I'm on the floor, he's so tall, I have to shoot upward and all I'd get would be his nostrils," the cameraman explained. "I don't want the nostril shot."
Just before 8:30, when Abdul-Jabbar was scheduled to appear, the elevator doors opened. Lights from the mini-cams and flashes from cameras illuminated not Abdul-Jabbar and attorney but a court clerk carrying a file under her arm.
When Abdul-Jabbar and entourage finally appeared, it was through a side door, not the elevator. At the first sighting, the shouts echoed through the hall, reminiscent of a scene from "The Front Page."
Flanked by attorneys and escorted by two policemen, Abdul-Jabbar appeared in a dark blue suit with matching sunglasses. The cameras followed his every move. At one point, a backpedaling cameraman knocked over a metal trash can. Abdul-Jabbar briefly turned to see what the commotion was about.
Once inside, Abdul-Jabbar removed his sunglasses. He rose when told to, answered a few questions from Judge Wiehn with one-word acknowledgements and approached the bench to sign a document after sentence was imposed.
Abdul-Jabbar was fined $500 and told to pay $834.35 in restitution for the damaged camera. It was over in six minutes, less time than the farewell ceremony had taken at the Veterans Coliseum the previous evening.
Abdul-Jabbar's exit from the courtroom to a waiting limousine was similar to his entrance. Only this time, reporters shouted requests for comments from Abdul-Jabbar, who ignored them.
Making sure Abdul-Jabbar was seated in the limousine, attorney Leonard Armato spoke with the reporters. After a few minutes, the crowd had dispersed.
Said one local reporter, "I guess it wouldn't have been a good time to ask for his autograph."
Asked three weeks later about the courthouse scene, Abdul-Jabbar softly said, "There's nothing you can do about that."
If you make it to age 35 and your job still involves wearing a name tag, you've probably made a serious vocational error.
--Comedian Dennis Miller In the blink of an eye, Abdul-Jabbar will be out of our lives.
Sure, he still will be somewhat visible endorsing a shoe company. But, in terms of public viewing, his last playoff game this season probably will be the last time he will be seen for a while.
Abdul-Jabbar has often talked about stretching out on a beach chair at his home in Hawaii with a tall, cool drink and an engrossing book, soaking in the sun and the restorative power of solitude.
It figures to be a time for both reflection on his just-completed career and planning for the future.
Abdul-Jabbar is vague about his plans.
He said he wants to resume his fledgling acting career--"I'd like to star in a movie with Meryl Streep; she is a fantastic actress," Abdul-Jabbar said--and attempt to produce projects. He said he would like to do a film adaptation of "Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans."
A book chronicling his final season, written with Mignon McCarthy, is scheduled to be published by Random House in the fall.
And, Abdul-Jabbar said, he plans to work in public service to promote literacy among youth, and also wants to spend more time with his children.
A career on the periphery of basketball apparently does not interest him at all. He said we won't--for a while, at least--see him coaching, in the broadcast booth and, definitely, not in old-timers' games.
Abdul-Jabbar's lawsuit against Tom Collins, the former agent who Abdul-Jabbar claims bilked him out of most of his assets, still is pending but Abdul-Jabbar's advisers say he is solvent. Nancy Sarnoff, who handles Abdul-Jabbar's endorsements and marketing, said he has as many endorsements as, if not more than, most athletes. Plus, he earned $3 million from the Lakers this season.
So, Abdul-Jabbar apparently will not be forced to exploit his fame to support himself, something he detests.
"I've played organized basketball since I was in fourth grade," Abdul-Jabbar said. "That's 34 years. I think I've had enough competition.
"It's possible that I might change my mind and want to be involved with the game again. Maybe after eight months or something, I might feel I have to be around it. That's what people tell me. I don't know.
"I can say without hesitation that I have done everything I wanted to. I think I have had enough success to last me a couple of lifetimes, and I am thankful for that."
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR GIFT LIST NOV. 22, NEW YORK: A silver apple, framed jerseys worn by Abdul-Jabbar at Power Memorial High School and UCLA, and with the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers.
NOV. 26, DETROIT: Portrait depicting Abdul-Jabbar with Bucks, Lakers.
NOV. 28, PHILADELPHIA: Portable telephone, collection of compact discs featuring jazz artists from Philadelphia and a compact disc player.
DEC. 10, INDIANA: Flute, saxophone, key to the city of Indianapolis, portrait collage of Abdul-Jabbar and a citation as "Sagamore of the Wabash," the highest honor a civilian can achieve in Indiana.
DEC. 11, MILWAUKEE: A motorcycle, a portrait of Abdul-Jabbar, a trophy.
DEC. 13, CLEVELAND: A rug made in Iran, a set of conga drums.
DEC. 14, NEW JERSEY: A video cassette recorder, an inscribed china bowl, jazz compact discs, a portrait of Abdul-Jabbar.
DEC. 16, BOSTON: Compact discs from jazz artists, a mounted slab of the Boston Garden's parquet floor, $10,000 donated in Abdul-Jabar's name to the Red Auerbach fund.
DEC. 18, WASHINGTON: A juke box filled with jazz 45s, donated by fans.
DEC. 20, CHICAGO: A VCR, jazz compact discs, a fishing rod and 10,000 fishing hooks, a trophy in the shape of a basketball.
JAN. 29, DALLAS: A verdite (semiprecious stone) sculpture with a petrified wood base of an elephant from Kenya.
FEB. 22, UTAH: An inscribed 1886 commemorative Winchester rifle, custom cowboy boots, a leather jacket, rattlesnake belt and cowboy hat, honorary deputy status in the Salt Lake County sheriff's department.
MARCH 5, HOUSTON: Display from NASA, lap-top computer.
MARCH 7, ATLANTA: Library of jazz records, original work of art commissioned by a local artist.
MARCH 8, MIAMI: Haitian marble sculpture. A seven-day Pacific Coast cruise for two.
MARCH 10, CHARLOTTE: A rocking chair.
MARCH 23, SACRAMENTO: A $4,000 annual scholarship donation to the Cal State University system in Abdul-Jabbar's name. Gov. George Deukmejian gave Abdul-Jab an engraved clock and a sculpture.
MARCH 28, PHOENIX: Golf clubs, a bronze statue of Abdul-Jabbar.
APRIL 1, DENVER: Ski package to Vail, Colo., and a gold nugget.
APRIL 4, SEATTLE: A reclining chair.
APRIL 8, GOLDEN STATE: A 24-foot sailboat, a compact disc player with Hawaiian songs, a video camera.
APRIL 12, SAN ANTONIO: Portrait of Abdul-Jabbar, $10,000 check to a charity of Abdul-Jabbar's choice.
APRIL 15, CLIPPERS: An umbrella, a wet suit, a surfboard, sunglasses and a birthday cake.
APRIL 21, PORTLAND: A hand-cut, glass backgammon set, made with 23-karat gold leaf and platinum leaf, which plus ivory dice.